Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You.”
“Press not thy purpose on thy Lord,
Urge not thy erring will,
Nor dictate to the Eternal mind
Nor doubt thy Maker’s skill.”
Lydia H. Sigourney
Today’s Study Text:
“Now in Haran the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go for yourself away from your country, from your relatives and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing, dispensing good to others.”
“The Farce We Call Fear” Part 2
“The Move, The Monarch, The Mammon, The Mistress and the Mountain”
“Men (and women) who fear God face life fearlessly. Men (and women) who do not fear God end up fearing everything.”
What things or people cause me to feel afraid?
Do I think fear has any power over me?
“It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man.”
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”
I’m so thankful that from beginning to end, the Bible is a book filled with stories about real people – individuals that you and I can relate to. What God so beautifully does is show us how He worked in the personal lives of each one of His children whose life record leaves us with confidence and hope. Why? Because as we study the Word of God, we gain confidence in our heavenly Guide, knowing that if He could work things out in the lives of Miriam, Abraham, David, and Huldah, just to name a very few, He can and will work things out in your life and mine as well.
As we continue to uncover why the emotion of destructive fear is really a farce, mocking us and paralyzing us from being all God has intended, I’d like to go to the book of Genesis and take a look into the life of one of the Bible’s greatest stalwarts – Abraham.
It is interesting for us to recognize the fact that the “farce of fear” wove its way throughout Abraham’s life. At times, Abraham succumbed to the tentacles that fear wrapped around his life. However, the reason I want to look more closely into Abraham’s life is that we will find a tremendous revelation on how we can learn to trust God as He guides our daily life and teaches us to trust in Him with all our hearts.
There are five events in Abraham’s life that I consider to be teachable moments, especially as we look at the way fear can affect our lives. Don’t think these are the only events which we could learn from in the life of Abraham. However, these are just five specific moments which have helped me realize that in the every day occurrences of my own life, if I remember I’m covered by the wings of my heavenly Father, then I don’t have any reason to fear. Here is the first event, call it a crossroad event that taught Abraham that he need not fear, no matter what happened in his life.
Crossroad Event #1: The Move. If a poll was taken of 100 adults, I am not certain you could even get 10% of the people to tell you they liked to move. The upheaval. The change. The packing. Just to make myself clear, I will assure you that I’d be with those who desperately dislike moving. Yet right when we meet Abraham, God came to him and said, “Up and at it Abram. Moving time. Take up the tent stakes, pack up all your things. Gather all your livestock together. Start the trek to “the land that I will show you.” Notice this important fact: God chose to tell Abraham to move, but He left out one hugely critical detail. God did not give Abraham the specific directions for the journey upfront. Nor did He tell Abraham exactly where the final destination would be. Somewhere in Canaan had to suffice for a time. I will be frank with you, this would have caused me great unrest. Indeed, I would have been afraid. There are so many “what-ifs” with this directive from God that it would take several pages for me to list them all. Abraham was to leave everything familiar. Everything comfortable. Everything he had built – and move to an unknown location.
Here’s what is so striking about this command from God. He told Abram that he was to go away “from your country, from your relatives and your father’s house.” Then God continued by informing Abram that in the new location God had in mind, Abram would become a great nation. God promised: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you with abundant increase of favors and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing, dispensing good to others” (Genesis 12: 2, Amplified Bible). Evidently, God knew something that Abram didn’t know and I believe it was this.
Sometimes we get so “stuck in our ways” that God can’t get our attention. At least not where we happen to be at the moment. So He sets in motion – a change! I want to give you a personal example. After our accident, Jim and I, who happened to live in Phoenix, Arizona at the time, felt impressed to move. Honestly, I was afraid because we were not able to get around very well and having close proximity to family, friends and neighbors really gave me a personal sense of security.
But within a few weeks of doing some research, so many “dominoes” began to fall. We couldn’t believe what was happening before our eyes. Within a few weeks, we had moved to a place where we didn’t know anyone. And then, just a few weeks after we got unpacked in a new city, I received in the mail a catalog for art classes and one week later, I’d met Betty Carr who is the artist responsible for all the artwork here in Transformation Garden. Furthermore, it didn’t take long before I had written, When A Woman Meets Jesus. And then, I was on to writing a daily devotional. I can assure you with all my strength that Transformation Garden would never have come about had we not made a move – something I despised doing. Something I was afraid to do.
The problem wasn’t that Phoenix was a bad place. It just wasn’t the right place. It wasn’t God’s place for us at that time. There were distractions – many of which were good things – family gatherings, neighborhood parties, social events, church duties – you name it. But here in our mountain retreat, a quiet haven, we are able to focus on the things God has chosen for us to do. For certain, even where we live now, we could have been drawn away by local activities, however, looking back on God’s leading, I see clearly how He has used specific events in time to benefit what He was doing in our lives and then, by His divine guiding, He withdrew us from the things that only served to distract our focus away from the ministry He placed in our hands.
I tell you this, not because I’m comparing myself with a spiritual giant like Abraham, but because I’ve learned, by studying the life of Abraham that I don’t need to be afraid if God comes to me and says, “Up and at them! A move is on.”
You may find yourself today in a place where God is calling out for you to “move on.” And here’s where I’d like to interject an idea that only came to me in the past few years as I read all the Prayer Requests from people who were looking for work and needed us to pray they would find a job.
Many of you, after finding a new job that required you to get additional training or to move to a different location, wrote me and said, “I know
God wanted me in this new work. I just needed to follow His leading.” Or this is another response I’d receive, “This new job is so much better than my old job. I make more money. I’m treated with respect. God sure knew what He was doing by putting me in a new place.”
Guess what? This is an “Abraham Response.” He didn’t hesitate. When God called out and told him to get ready to move-on he obeyed. And surprising as it may seem, when we follow God and do His will, all fear will drop away. In his terrific book, Abraham, Delay Is Not Denial, author Don Anderson points out that sometimes we are unwilling to “take the steps of separation necessary to become men or women stripped down to do what God wants us to do. (We’ve) got our lives cluttered up with improper priorities.”
It just might be that where God wants us will require an adjustment in our lives that makes us fearful because we don’t see all the pieces fitting together perfectly. Just remember that God’s words to you and me today are the same words He spoke to His friend Abraham.
“The Lord came to Abram in a vision:
‘Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
Your very great reward.’”
This is God’s promise, not mine: “Do not be afraid, __________(your name). I am your shield, your very great reward.” As author Ben Patterson observes, “God’s dealings with us are always on the order of what He did with Abram…He makes promises, and He will keep His promises…As God promised…’I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out’ – plans to take care of you not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29: 11, The Message Bible).
“We believe it is always better
to hope than to despair
to build a new rather than to destroy
and to accept that
life will not confirm our worst fears
but will surprise us
with unforeseen revelations.
God is above us
God is below us
God is between us
God is within us.
We will not be afraid.”
Dorothy McRae - McMahon
“O Lord, we beseech You to deliver us from the fear of the unknown future, from fear of failure, from fear of poverty, from fear of sickness and pain, from fear of age, and from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by Your grace to love and fear You only. Fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in You; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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